In Ethiopia, building skills to gauge agroecological performance

Training shares tools and insights for food system transformation
Robin Chacha, a senior lab technician at CIFOR-ICRAF, shows training participants how to take soil samples. Photo by Endalkachew Woldemeskel/CIFOR-ICRAF

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Agroecology is an integrated approach that seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and the environment – while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system. Given that multidimensionality, it can be challenging to measure the performance of agroecology in a holistic and accurate way.

In that context, on 5th December 2023, the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF)’s Ethiopia office held a workshop that aimed at providing an overview of the Measuring Agroecology Performance (MAP) project and introducing the Tool for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) as well as the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ)’s Prosilience Ethiopia project. 

Matthias Geck, a CIFOR-ICRAF agroecological scientist, explained that MAP is a collaborative project focused on generating evidence on the multidimensional performance of agroecology through gathering and analyzing reliable and consistent data at farm and territorial levels, as well as at various levels of agroecological transition.

To do so, it uses the Tool for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) methodology which was developed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2019. It identifies gaps and entry points and builds the capacity of relevant stakeholders at national and local level on the application of TAPE and the use of Kobo Toolbox, a data collection platform that allows for online and offline use to facilitate the survey process.

Chanyalew Seyoum, who led a research team at Haramaya University that assessed agroecological performance in four Ethiopian districts using TAPE, said the team found about 89 percent of the farms they assessed were non-agroecological, with just a small proportion incipiently or fully in transition to agroecology.

These non-agroecological farms, the researchers found, were not diversified or resilient to the impact of shocks and did not make the most of opportunities for synergy: there were limited interactions between crops, trees, and elements of the agroecosystem and landscape.

Households with more developed agroecological systems, meanwhile, performed better on key TAPE metrics, including income, dietary diversity, productivity, and more. Chanyalew said that TAPE could be more broadly applied in Ethiopia to support project interventions related to agroecology and food systems.

Endalkachew Woldemeskel, a senior scientist and development advisor at CIFOR-ICRAF and the coordinator of the MAP project in Ethiopia, laid out plans to assess samples of 200 households in three other districts – Hula, Sodo Zuria, and Walmara – using the TAPE methodology over the following three weeks before the close of the year.

Participants in the MAP workshop. Photo by Eyob Getahun/CIFOR-ICRAF

The selected districts are three of the 22 in which GIZ’s ProSilience project has been implemented. According to GIZ component manager for agroecology, Julia Doldt, the Prosilience project promotes the integration of crops, livestock, and forestry; helps farmers to enclose areas for conservation, plant woodlots and fodder, and implement cut-and-carry systems; and supports agroforestry and the use of improved, fuel-efficient cookstoves. 

Following the workshop, CIFOR-ICRAF gave a two-day TAPE training on 6-7 December for the enumerators and relevant national partners that will be engaged in measuring agroecological performance within these sites.

Thirty-five people representing various partner institutions – including ministries within the federal government, NGOs, and international organizations such as FAO, World Resource Institute and CGIAR centres ­– participated in the training.


This project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co-funded by the European Union (EU) and supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

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